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An application to return more than 100 malnourished horses seized by RSPCA Victoria last month was dismissed by the Supreme Court yesterday (Wednesday, 2 March).

The owner’s of the horses issued court proceedings challenging the authority to seize the animals and sought to restrain the RSPCA from dealing with any of the horses.

The rescue was authorised by ministerial order under the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1986 (POCTAA).

It was the largest rescue in the 145-year history of RSPCA Victoria.

Many of the horses rescued were underweight with protruding hip bones and visible ribs and spines.

Pregnant mares and foals were among the 100 horses taken in. Many of the stallions and colts hadn’t been gelded.

Most of the horses were found to have a heavy worm burden.

“These horses were seized because of serious concerns for the welfare of the animals,” said Daniel Bode, senior inspector at RSPCA Victoria.

“The RSPCA is pleased with yesterday’s result as it means that, along with the support of horse rescue groups, veterinarians and behaviourists, we are able to continue with the important job at hand which is to treat, rehabilitate and ultimately rehome the horses in accordance with the authorisation provided,” added Mr Bode.

The cost of the ongoing care, treatment, rehabilitation and rehoming is expected to be over $250,000.

Between 2014-2015 RSPCA Victoria responded to over 10,500 cruelty reports, seizing 516 animals.

“We have a range of options available to use when we have concerns for an animal’s welfare. Seizure and prosecution are two of the strongest – and we only take them in the most serious situations, to ensure that they urgently receive the care and treatment that they need,” said Dr Liz Walker, CEO, RSPCA Victoria.